Review by Shai Writes Things at MACGMagazine.com. (Lightly edited.)
This is my favorite Monsta X album to date.
The track offers a building group vocal right up front, led by Lee Minhyuk, and gets a boost from a thumping backing guitar. Chae Hyungwon’s velvet tone then does a slow roll into a seriously catchy chorus. In fact, the entire song is a series of building moments, highlighted by Yoo Kihyun’s killer vocals, as well as the in-your-face styling of the group’s rappers, Lee Jooheon and Im Changkyun (“I.M.”).
2. "Now or Never"
The second track is an anthem about taking chances and living your life up front and out loud, which is exactly how the song starts out, not letting up until the very end. There is an interesting use of space and beats in the song that works really well in intensifying what is lyrically a fairly simplistic song. “Now or Never” also has one of my favorite pre-chorus/chorus combinations, with Minhyuk’s sweet-voiced “You only live once, live without regrets” leading into the group’s forceful “do it now or never.”
3. "In Time"
With its jewelry-box-sounding intro, “In Time” has Monsta X slowing it down for the third track. One of the best things about this song is the line distribution, with every member really getting some time to shine. The rappers, as always, handle soft and pining just as well as they do hard-hitting. It is pretty, with lyrics speaking to the desire for time to slow down, letting one enjoy more moments with the person they love. Highlights include Hyungwon’s introductory verse and I.M.’s spoken-word sections. Also of note, Jooheon is credited not only with writing, but was also involved in composing and arranging this track.
4. "From Zero"
A special stage from Monsta X’s Beautiful World Tour, featuring Wonho and Hyungwon, this track was a notable fan favorite before the album was even released. A song about making mistakes, it speaks to writing a new history “from zero” and ends with a heartfelt spoken plea from I.M. asking for “a chance to be yours.” Fans had high expectations, and thankfully the studio version did not disappoint, earning the spot for my favorite track on the album. “From Zero” starts on a light note, slowly building into a rousing tropical-influenced chorus that leaves one hard-pressed not to dance, regardless of location. Wonho has credits for writing, composing and arrangement on this song.
This track opens with a low hum reminiscent of the stereo sound in a movie theater, adds a moment of ominous echoing thumps, and then slams you in the face with a pounding synth-horn beat. To me, this song is Monsta X leveled up — layered, loud, and thundering. Fierce. It provokes a feeling of riding into battle, ready to take on anything and anyone. Or to put it simply, it makes me want to break stuff.
6. "Tropical Night" (열대야)
The track is aptly titled because that’s exactly how it sounds right from the beginning, evoking an image of pushing through palm fronds as you listlessly search for relief from the humidity-laden surroundings. This song is, for lack of a better description, sexy. Everything about it oozes sensuality, from I.M.’s initial, “It’s a tropical night yeah,” to each of his rolling “열대야” between lines in the chorus; Kihyun’s soaring, “everything’s gonna be alright”; and the beat itself. All of it. Jooheon and I.M. own this song, playing perfectly off each other as always.
7. "Deja Vu"
Similar to “Now or Never” and “X,” this track comes at you hard. It showcases one of the qualities I believe makes Monsta X stand out from other K-pop groups: an ability to blend numerous loud layers with beautifully smooth vocals. It’s an intensity that’s not overwhelming, especially if you like pop with a harder edge.